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Whistleblower: The NSA is Lying -- The U.S. Government Has Copies of Most of Your Emails

NSA whistleblower William Binney believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush.

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AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a clip of Congress Member Hank Johnson—he’s the Georgia Democrat—questioning National Security Administration director, General Keith Alexander, last month, asking him whether the NSAspies on U.S. citizens.

REP. HANK JOHNSON: Does the NSA routinely intercept American citizens’ emails?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.

REP. HANK JOHNSON: Does the NSA intercept Americans’ cell phone conversations?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.

REP. HANK JOHNSON: Google searches?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.

REP. HANK JOHNSON: Text messages?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.

REP. HANK JOHNSON: Amazon.com orders?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.

REP. HANK JOHNSON: Bank records?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: No.

REP. HANK JOHNSON: What judicial consent is required for NSAto intercept communications and information involving American citizens?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER: Within the United States, that would be the FBI lead. If it was a foreign actor in the United States, theFBI would still have the lead and could work that with NSA or other intelligence agencies, as authorized. But to conduct that kind of collection in the United States, it would have to go through a court order, and the court would have to authorize it. We are not authorized to do it, nor do we do it.

AMY GOODMAN: That was General Keith Alexander, the NSA director, being questioned by Democratic Congress Member Hank Johnson. Bill Binney, he’s the head of your agency, of the NSA. Explain what he’s saying—what he’s not saying, as well.

WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I think it’s—part of it is a term, how you use the term "intercept," as to whether or not what they’re saying is, "We aren’t actually looking at it, but we have it," you know, or whether or not they’re actually collecting it and storing it somewhere.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So the mistake of the congressman was not to ask, "Are you collecting information?"

WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, he also said things like, "We don’t collect" — or, "We don’t collect against U.S. citizens unless we have a warrant." And then, at the same time, he said that we don’t—at the same interview, he said, "We don’t have the capability to collect inside this country." Well, those are kind of contradictory.

AMY GOODMAN: Is he lying? Is General Keith Alexander lying?

WILLIAM BINNEY: I wouldn’t—you know, the point is how you split the words. I wouldn’t say "lying." It’s a kind of avoiding the issue.

AMY GOODMAN: Jacob Appelbaum, how does this relate to you? And how powerful is General Keith Alexander?

JACOB APPELBAUM: I was saying to Bill that I think he’s probably the most powerful person in the world, in the sense that—

AMY GOODMAN: More powerful than President Obama?

JACOB APPELBAUM: Well, sure. I mean, if he controls the information that arrives on Obama’s desk, and Obama makes decisions based on the things on his desk, what decisions can he make, if—except the decisions presented to him by the people he trusts? And when the people he trusts are the military, the military makes the decisions, then the civilian government is not actually in power.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Binney, you’re nodding your head.

WILLIAM BINNEY: Yes. I mean, well, for example, their responsibility is to interpret what they have and report up echelon. So, I mean, that’s the responsibility of all the intelligence agencies. So, they basically filter the information to what they believe is important, which is what they should do, because, you know, they’re occupying—it takes time for leaders to review material to make decisions. So they have to boil it down as best they can. So it’s a function of their processing, but it is important that they do it correctly to make sure the information that gets there is correct and complete as it can.

AMY GOODMAN: Is General Alexander more powerful than President Obama?

 
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